“No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” Epictetus
What wise words — and how hard they can be to take to heart! We live in a time when everything is on demand and instant. When we can find the whole world at our fingertips with a few strokes of the fingertips. With the whole world in a hurry, it’s easy to be lulled into the feeling that everything — even ideas and stories — should pop out of us like Athene popped out of the head of Zeus, full grown and fully armored.
And yet … in our hearts, we know the value of taking time with our work — letting an idea simmer for a while, sitting with it for a while, turning it around and looking at it from all angles, letting other ideas be attracted to it like bits of iron to a magnet.
When we give our ideas time to gain substance and weight, we begin to see their possibilities. We can play with them, feed them with our thoughts, nurture them and give them time to ripen. Then, when we get them down on paper and see what we have, we can change them, reshape them, add to them, enrich them — and make what we’re striving to say even bigger and better.
How many times have you laid a piece of work down because you ran out of gas and didn’t know where it was going or how to fix its flaws. Then, coming back to it after a time, everything seems clear. You see what you were really trying to say. You see how to reorder its pieces so that they flow from one to another. You see what you need to add or subtract to bring it to a satisfying conclusion — to make it whole.
All this is the fruit of time. When you give yourself time to let a piece of writing ripen, then you find the pulp and the juice that your readers will taste when they bite into it and savor its flavor.
So let’s not always be in a rush —- let’s give our work the time and freedom to ripen. When we do, it will reward us. Write on!